Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee via SNAP
Present: Archbishop Dolan, Bishop Skiba, Mark Doll, Patricia O’Donoghue, Rev. Phil Reifenberg, Wayne A. Schneider, Sr. Janet Senderak, SSND, Joseph Terrian, Rev. Donald Thimm
Excused: Thomas Bausch, T. Michael Bolger, Joan Braun
Recording Secretary: Kim Stollenwerk
California lawsuit - Siegfried Widera
This lawsuit was filed against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Diocese of Orange in
California alleging abuse 30+ years ago. So far, only one case has been filed, but we are anticipating three or four more. The costs may be as high as $400,000 per victim. There will be some insurance coverage, however it will take a long time to recover. The insurance companies argue that the Archdiocese was negligent and therefore coverage does not apply. Results of the psychiatric evaluations of the victim have not yet been received.
Archbishop Cousins sent a letter to the Diocese of Orange outlining the problems with Fr.
Our care for victims goes beyond the law. We provide care/therapy even if the statute of limitations has passed and the victims are unable to take legal action. Restorative justice makes reparations for lost jobs, education, etc. due to the depression and other psychological effects of abuse. This is a process done without an attorney for either side.
Currently, Marquette University has a mediation program in place. Also, Barbara Anne Cusack, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, has done research in this area. Several victims have come forward and think pastoral mediation sounds helpful. Pastoral mediation has been in place for many years now, however it has not had a formal edict. The maximum settlement amount is $30,000 per victim. This amount is a goal and is not concrete.
The Finance Council believes this is a step in the right direction. There could be hundred of
legitimate victims asking for $30,000 each. Since this cannot be taken from CSA, how would this be funded? If the costs become too great, they would have to be borrowed. A loan would be internal and probably would come from the Income Care Fund. It would be hoped that some funding would come from the insurance and would help repay the loan.
The worst-case scenario would force the Archdiocese to liquidate property. If Wisconsin takes the same approach as California and offers a one-year reprieve on the statute of limitations, then more drastic action would need to be taken. This could result in program cuts, seminary cuts, etc.
Currently, we are working on setting up a Trust Fund to shelter the Parish Deposit Fund.
The net deficit of the proposed budgets submitted is $1.7 million. The Cabinet has been and will continue to meet to discuss and revise the budget. Many options have surfaced, such as sharing of staff (some offices are already doing this), reducing the contribution to the priests’ pension plan, capping salary increases, increasing the percentage of health insurance premiums shared by employees, reduce the office cleaning services. Some of the options are drastic and may not be feasible at this time. St. Francis Seminary must be made aware of our predicament and be willing to share In budget cuts. Since parishes have already completed their budgeting processes, we would not be able to increase parish assessments for the coming year. Finance Council approval would be needed to eliminate the 8% cap in increases in assessments or imposing a 10% penalty for failure of a parish to report their financial statements. Another option may be to reduce or eliminate the
subsidized lunch program for employees.
Currently unassignable priests are receiving full salaries and are budgeted under the Vicar for Clergy. There is a proposal to reduce their benefit to be the same as the current pension benefit, $1,250 per month and also offer $20,000 for laicization ($10,000 at the start and $10,000 at the completion of the process). Also, they remain on our health insurance until they find other employment. The final effect of all this is not known at this time and it may be a wash with the current budget.